Princeton Women’s Hockey Continues Hot Start With Dramatic 4-3 Overtime Win

Alysia DaSilva made 11 saves in her college debut after entering the game in relief of Ashley Holt, and helped the Tigers come back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat RIT, 4-3.  (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

Alysia DaSilva made 11 saves in her college debut after entering the game in relief of Ashley Holt, and helped the Tigers come back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat RIT, 4-3. (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

PRINCETON — It’s been a little while since people have truly taken notice of the Princeton women’s hockey team. But early indications are that this season could be different.

In the opening tilt of a two-game series at historic Hobey Baker Rink against the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), the Tigers got down to a 3-0 deficit after the first 20 minutes, but came all the way back to fight for a 4-3 win in overtime.

RIT outshot Princeton, 12-7, in the first period, and senior goaltender Ashley Holt allowed three goals before giving way to Alysia DaSilva to start the second.

“The mood (on the bench in the first) should have been a lot better than it was,” said head coach Jeff Kampersal.  “We were prepared, but we just weren’t focused.  So we just slugged our way through 20 minutes, and they got an earful between periods, and then they started to play the way they were capable of playing.”

And what, exactly, did that earful entail?

“That I can’t watch that first 20 minutes ever again, because I’ll have a heart attack,” he said.  “We didn’t have a forecheck in the first period, so once we had a little more toughness and faster skating, we established a forecheck and were able to get shots on goal.  We had barely maybe one quality chance in the first period, which isn’t enough, obviously.  They just competed harder and won battles, so that was basically the message.  We adjusted our power plays a little bit to figure out the areas they weren’t covering, and that helped on that last goal there.”

According to Kampersal, pulling Holt wasn’t so much a reflection on her play, but an effort to spark the team.  Between a newfound commitment to upping their battle level and needing to play hard for a cold goaltender between the pipes in her college debut, it worked.

“I don’t think we played well in front of A-Holt, and it’s a bummer because she deserved to get in there; Kimberly (Newell) needed a rest, and we just didn’t play well in front of her,” Kampersal said.  “It was just a change of pace for the second period.  DaSilva is a freshman, and she deserves some time as well, but primarily it was just as a change of pace.”

DaSilva, clad in a plain white mask, turned in an extraordinary effort.  She wasn’t tested often, but came up big when she was, including a huge save after a bad turnover in the defensive zone with under a minute to play and the game tied, 3-3.

“I didn’t really have the full (first) intermission to prepare for (my debut), so I just had to kind of get into it right from the start,” DaSilva said.  “We wanted that big comeback, and it happened.”

Princeton, who again faces RIT at 3 PM tomorrow, has improved to 4-1 on the season and is starting to factor into the national picture.

“We just want to be consistent,” Kampersal said.  “If we make mistakes and we’re playing hard, I have no issue.  But if we’re  kind of half-assing it and lazy and making mistakes, then I have a big issue.  We’re just trying to be a good, consistent team.  And this year, more than others, we’re capitalizing on chances, which had been an issue for us over the years.  But we’re finding a way to get it done.”

Although Newell will likely get the net on Saturday afternoon, it’s fair to say DaSilva wouldn’t change a thing about her first game at Baker.

“Not at all,” she said with a big smile.  “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com — Look for more in print on Wednesday

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